Socialist Party
PRESS RELEASE PRESS RELEASE PRESS RELEASE 13.11.03


Socialist Party launches election manifesto

The Socialist Party today launched its manifesto for the Assembly elections. The Party is standing candidates in two constituencies.

Prominent local trade unionist, Jim Barbour, who led the recent firefighter’s dispute, is standing in South Belfast.

Tommy Black, an education trade unionist and the Chair of the East Belfast Campaign Against the Water Tax is running in that constituency. Launching the manifesto Jim Barbour said:

"The Socialist Party is running in these elections to begin to build an alternative to the dead end of sectarian and right wing politics.

"The biggest lie that is being told in this election is that the major parties are against water charges. Before the Assembly was suspended they had agreed with the British government that they would introduce water charges. If they get back in they will go ahead with this iniquitous double tax.

"We are running on a firm pledge to resist water charges and to help build a massive campaign of non payment if they are introduced.

"We are standing to defend our health, education and other public services. We are totally opposed to the selling off of these services to private profiteers as is the policy of all the major parties. We will fight for public services that are adequately funded and democratically run.

"These are the issues that should be centre stage in the elections. The Socialist Party is in favour of a real peace process built from the bottom up by uniting people in the working class communities. If we are going to achieve peace and political stability we have to tackle the underlying problems of poverty, low wages, and declining services."

Tommy Black said that Socialist Party MLAs would defend the wages and conditions of workers and vigorously fight to combat low pay:

"Teachers, civil servants and firefighters are being forced to consider industrial action to achieve a decent wage increase and to defend the services they work in. We fully support them in these battles.

"At a time when just under half of our children are being brought up in poverty we have to provide jobs and eradicate the scourge of low pay.

"We want the minimum wage increased. It should immediately go up to £6 an hour and the exemptions for young people should be abolished. The £6 should be a first step to the European Decency Threshold of just over £8.

"Unlike other parties we are not standing so that we can get on board the Stormont gravy train. If elected we will continue to live on a workers’ wage and will donate the balance of our salary and expenses to the Socialist Party, and to community and trade union struggles including the campaign to get rid of the water tax in which we are both heavily involved.

"A vote for the Socialist Party is a first step to the building of a new mass party that can represent the common interests of working people and can offer a way our of the present political cul-de-sac."

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